Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why International Adoption?

When I tell friends that we are hoping to adopt a child and are looking researching International Adoption, most ask why we won't adopt from fostercare. This lenthy blog helps to explain the state of adopting from foster care in California and why are exploring other options! So, put up your feet and ..............

I will attempt to provide some information on some of the laws that impactthe foster care system as well as my own personal experiences in trying toadopt from the foster care system. Public law 96-272, was passed by Congress in 1980. This act was passed to correct or alleviate problems in the foster care system and to promote permanency rather than multiple foster placements. Another goal of the act was to encourage social workers to work toward reunification of the family and to avoid long-term foster care for the children if possible. Many child welfare agencies developed polices that emphasized family reunification as this was politically popular. The primary goal for children placed in foster care was to provide support services such as parenting classes for the parent/s with the goal of returning the children back to the parent/s. Most people will agree that it is best for a child tobe raised by their biological mom and dad where possible. However, it seems to be a no-brainer that a parent who abuses his or her child to the extent that the child is removed from the home (most child welfare agencies require heinous abuse to occur, before they will remove a child from an abusive home) will not suddenly become a better human being because they take some parenting classes. It is instinctive to protect and nurture your child and if a person does not have this instinct, no amount of classeswill make this person a better parent. No one needs classes to figure out that putting out cigarettes on a child's skin, starving them, locking them up in a bathroom or sexually molesting them is wrong and heinous! The article below demonstrates why this policy was failing:

After public outcry over the number of children who were getting killed after being reunified with their parents from foster care, Congress enacted the Adoption and Safe families Act of 1997 (public law 105-89) which sought to address 3 main concerns:
1. Child welfare system that was biased toward family preservation at the expense of children's safety and well-being,
2. Inadequate attention and resources were devoted to adoption as a permanent placement option for abused and neglected children, and
3. Children continued to remain in foster care too long.

In my state (California), it appears that the child welfare agencies have never moved from the 1980 law that emphasized family preservation over child safety.This is not just anecdotal information, I work on the opposite end of theChild Welfare system. When children are placed in foster care, my office receives referrals from the Child Welfare Agency to seek reimbursement of monies spent on foster care placement from the parents. I cannot tell you how many times we open, close and re-open cases--we first open a case when a child is removed from the home and placed in foster care, close the case after the child has been reunified with the parent, re-open thecase once the child has been abused again, and on and on again. The court orders detailing the abuse read like horror stories and it is unimaginable that the children could be reunified with their abusers again!

Most people are under the misconception that it is easy to adopt from the foster care system and that people are just not willing to adopt from the foster care system. I was under the same misconception--I believed that the children were being returned to their abusive parent/s because of a shortage of prospective adoptive parents. That was before I started on my own adoption journey and got a quick education! During our orientation meeting which is the first step in adopting from the foster care system, the social worker asked people who were there to start on the adoption process to raise up their hands. About half the room raised their hands--the other half were there to become licensed as foster parents. The social worker proceeded to make a pitch to the prospective adoptive parents to reconsider adoption and instead begin the foster parent licensing process because the county had a shortage of foster parents! It has been 3 months since we started trying to adopt through the fostercare system, and the Child Welfare Agency has not yet even started on our homestudy!

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